1. “Are We Gods?
Similarly, regarding the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently said, “As difficult as [the Iraq war] was … I think the price has been worth it, to establish a stable government in a very important region of the world.”
Setting aside the sheer arrogance and insensitivity of this statement, it is worth asking if we are even capable of determining what price is worth hundreds of thousands of human lives (in Iraq) or the deaths of dozens of innocent civilians (in Libya)? Are we gods with the moral authority to determine who will live and who will die? If not, then what business do we have proclaiming what is “worth” the deaths of people halfway around the world? More importantly, what business do we have killing (or causing the deaths of) those people in the first place? New Year’s is a traditionally a time for reflection; I hope that each of us will consider these questions and ask ourselves what kind of people we want to be. ”
2. “The Real ‘Invented’ People
Newt Gingrich’s controversial statement begs the question: Who invented a nationality? The Palestinians or the Israelis?
It is hard to believe that anyone who defends Israel’s legitimacy as a state would buy into former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s argument that Palestine is an “invented nation”.
The singular triumph of the Zionist movement is that it invented a state and a people – Israel and the Israelis – from scratch. The first Hebrew-speaking child in 1900 years, Ittamar Ben-Avi, was not born until 1882. His father, the brilliant linguist Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, created a modern language for him to speak by improvising from the language of the Bible.
What makes a people real?
Most nations in the world lacked self-determination for long periods of their history. The Polish nation existed between 1790 and 1918 even though the state was erased from the map – divided between Russia and Austro-Hungary. It achieved independence in 1918 only to again lose it to the Nazis, and then the Soviets from 1939 until 1989. Would anyone today argue that the Polish nation was invented?
The idea of it is ridiculous, especially when offered by Israelis or Americans (or Canadians, New Zealanders, Australians… ) whose national existence would have been unimaginable a few centuries ago.
The second argument is that Palestinians never thought of themselves as Palestinians until Jews started moving into their territory, that Palestinian nationalism is a response to Zionism.
Again, so what?
When European Jews docked in Jaffa, Palestine in the early immigration waves of the late 19th century, there were Arabs waiting at the port. When the Jews purchased land, it was Arabs who had to move out.
And if those Arabs didn’t call themselves Palestinians until the Zionist movement began, neither did the Jews call themselves Israelis. Until 1948, they were just Jews. But each of the two peoples knew who they were and who the other was.
The bottom line is that today, the Palestinian nation is as authentic as the Israeli nation – and vice versa. Those who think either is going away are blinded by hatred.”